A public media organization
Facilitated sessions to help the senior team articulate a new, audience-based statement of identity.
Audience research findings are no substitute for vision. Slover Linett had been researching listeners and members for this public radio station for several years and had become a trusted resource for the leadership team. So when the station developed plans for a new interactive media service involving both radio and the internet, the senior team asked us to lead a process of clarification and “visioning” for the organization as a whole and its increasingly complex system of brands and offerings.
Like many successful cultural and civic organizations, this nonprofit realized that audience research, while a necessary foundation for growth, would never answer all the tough questions. It would still be the responsibility of the leadership team to lay out a vision for the future — to decide creatively and strategically “who we want to be.”
(That vision and those decisions need to be responsive to audiences’ needs and values, as revealed through research. But you won’t find them waiting for you, ready-made, in the survey data or the focus group report. Moving from research to vision requires a leap.)
We developed a series of all-day, off-site “ideation” sessions for the senior team and a few board members. Using game-like exercises borrowed from the world of new-product development and branding, we helped them dig into their authentic, personal images of success for the organization, its audiences, and the communities it serves. Then we helped them make those images concrete and action-oriented by drafting “manifestos” for each main branch of the organization. (These manifestos combined elements of traditional mission statements, logic models, and brand platforms.)
The resulting statements were both descriptive and prescriptive, distilling what the organization was already about while also setting idealistic goalposts for the future. They became a “bible” for staff at all levels to use when making strategic decisions, hiring staff, applying for grants, and communicating to audiences.
Speaking of audiences, the manifestos also helped us design new research instruments to measure how well listeners’ and donors’ perceptions match up to the organization’s own ideal self, and highlight opportunities for improvement.